Weight Loss Programs: Does Weight Watchers Work?
I don't know about you, but I have tried it all. Weight Watchers, South Beach, Adkins, and the list goes on. Losing weight is never as easy as we want it to be. I joined weight watchers three separate times in the past eight years, and I wanted to share my experience with you in case you are considering this as your weight loss program. For some people, Weight Watchers is a lifesaver. For me, it was more of a frustration and here's 5 reasons why.
1. The Point system can be deceptive.
For example, a Weight Watchers brand chocolate ice cream bar from the grocery store claims 1 point each. However, if you eat 2, it becomes 3 points, not 2 like you would think. Since when does 1 +1=3? There are lots of foods that calculate to be a certain number of points, but two servings begins to multiply the points out of control. What was 1 point suddenly becomes 4 with some things when you eat just 2 servings. This always frustrated me because in order for the plan to work, you have to be so exact with your portion sizes or you will end up eating way more than you intended or accounted for.
In my opinion, if 2 servings equals 4 points, then 1 serving should equal 2 points. Basic math. Why round down? Especially on their own products! I'll tell you why they round down... because it's easier to sell a 1 point chocolate bar than a 2 point one. I began to think that instead of actually wanting me to succeed, this big money corporation was secretly making tasty snacks that were just barely below the 2 point mark and labeling them at 1 point just so I wouldn't lose weight too fast! After all, the longer I stay a member, the longer I pay for weekly meetings. I hope it truly isn't as awful as I make it sound, but overall, I didn't feel that the point system was always what it claimed to be.
2. I always felt I was depriving myself.
Now, I know that Weight Watchers preaches that you can eat anything on their plan. "That's the beauty of it!" everyone says. As long as you stay within the allotted points for the day, you should still lose weight. So, in theory, you could eat four candy bars at 7 points each and then eat "zero" point food for dinner and still lose weight? Well, maybe, although I wouldn't recommend it for your health.
Weight Watchers doesn't recommend it either, of course. There are good health guidelines that everyone is supposed to follow, and your daily points should really be taken up with eating along those guidelines. Overall, it is a very healthy, responsible plan. For some reason, though, I always felt like I was depriving myself of everything I really loved. I would go to meetings where people passed around recipes of sweets that used splenda or something like applesauce instead of sugar or milk. Then, when I went home to make it I was disgusted. There was no way I could convince myself that applesauce chocolate cake was anywhere near as good as the original.
3. I got tired of people complaining about their "SLOW" journey.
The meetings are supposed to be the highlight of your Weight Watcher week. Everyone gets together and pats each other on the back for a job well done. If you gained weight, they all hold your hand and say, "At least you're here, that's the first step." as though you were an alcoholic. I am not bashing the community as a whole, though, because you can meet some great friends who will really support you and help keep you on track.
What frustrated me most in the meetings was that every week, without fail, someone would raise their hand and talk about their "difficult, slow journey toward weight loss." When asked how much they've lost so far, the number would always be high, like 30 or 40 pounds. And how long did it take them to lose it? Six months?? At my last weight watchers meeting a woman actually said her weight loss has been slow and when asked how much she's lost, she said her loss was steady at about a pound a week and that she had been a member of weight watchers for just a couple of months. I wanted to stand up and put my fist through her face!
Needless to say, it was difficult for me, who had been going for over a year and would have killed for a one pound a week loss record, to support her and listen to how hard it has been for her.
4. I always gained it back.
Like I mentioned before, I have joined Weight Watchers three times in eight years. My mother also joined with me two out of the three times. We joined, we slowly lost. We got frustrated or even reached our goals. We stopped going. We gained it back. Every time.
This is a story you will hear every week in line waiting to weigh in. People join, lose, leave, and gain, only to come back and try all over again. I don't know that you can necessarily blame Weight Watchers for this, since it's us who gain the weight back and stop going to meetings. Honestly, though, who wants to go to a meeting every day for the rest of your life? There is a kind of bell that goes off in my head when I reach my weight loss goal. DING! I made it! Now I can EAT again!!!!
Each time I gained, I went back to WW, hoping for a miraculous fast weight loss, but the older I get, the harder it is to lose weight. I realize now that I have to find a way to eat that works for me and my body, not according to someone else's plan. I have to be the one responsible for coming up with a meal plan that I can stick to where I don't feel like I'm just waiting until I can really start eating again.
5. I cheated.
Probably the primary reason Weight Watchers didn't work for me is that I cheated. After struggling for months and not seeing much progress even though I was hungry all of the time and exercising more, I resorted to cheating. I stopped writing down everything I ate and then complained when the plan wasn't working.
Faced with the pressure of my Friday weigh in, and hating to hear that I had gained weight or that I had only lost a quarter of a pound or something, I stressed myself out on Wednesday and Thursday every week. So you know what I started doing? I would almost starve myself Thursday all day long. Then, at night, I would take a laxative so that when I got to my meeting on Friday, I was as light as I could possibly be. After the meeting, I would head to Cracker Barrell and gorge myself. I knew I had a full week until my next weigh in, so weekends were eating time. As you can imagine, I was not successful on that plan for long.
If you have more self-discipline than I do and you love to bond with women and go to meetings every week and face the fear of the scale, Weight Watchers might work for you. It has worked for millions, so I hear.
I don't think that it's the program that went wrong, so much as it was ME that just couldn't follow it. My attitude was already one of frustration when I signed up that third time, thinking "Why am I here again?" In the end, if you want to lose weight, you have to get your attitude straight first. There is no easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It takes hard work and a real committment to change. Just because Weight Watchers didn't work for me, doesn't mean that it can't work for you if you are really ready for a lifelong change.
As for me, instead of Weight Watchers, I now belong to a fitness club where I do strength training and aerobic workouts twice a day. I walk more outside with my dog and try to get more activity in my daily routine. I still haven't gotten the eating down to where it needs to be, but I'm working on it every day, and the weight is slowly coming off.